25 Mar In the Midst of Social Distancing: How Do I Protect My Child’s Mental Health?
The shelter-in-place mandates precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic has parents wondering how to best manage their children’s interrupted school schedules. I hear concerns that kids are becoming aimless, grumpy, and sleeping in too late in the day. So what’s a parent to do?
First and foremost, the best approach is to be the example you want your child to follow. Next, consider ways that you can demonstrate to your child that they are relevant in your home and they have skills that they can contribute to the world around them.
For instance, ask for your child’s help with cleaning up the yard. While you work together, ask your child if there are things she has been putting off because she didn’t think she had time to do them. Maybe she has been putting off learning a second language, improving her soccer skills, or writing essays for college scholarships. Caution: resist the temptation to turn this conversation into a “to do” list for your child. Instead treat it as a step toward inspiring her to initiate her own goals.
Perhaps this is the time to learn a new baking skill or it’s a perfect opportunity to organize his baseball card collection, Spotify playlist, or closet. The possibilities are endless when you keep in mind your main goals. They are to help your child see his value and to activate his internal motivations to accomplish goals of productivity and skill-building. Remember, your affirmation and encouragement will fuel the inspiration.
Personally, I love to inspire my younger clients with these three specific YouTube videos of young people who have developed both relevance and purpose:
1) Carson Kopfl, who at age 11, faced the “sharks” in the season 9 premiere of ABC’s hit business reality show Shark Tank, and struck a deal for his innovative skateboard company “Locker Board” with entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.
2) Darci Lynn Farmer is a singing ventriloquist who won Season 12 of America’s Got Talent. She lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with her parents and brothers.
3) Jack Carroll, a teenage comedian with cerebral palsy, had the audience rolling in the aisles from the moment he wheeled onto the stage, despite fearing that he would be thrown to the lions.
The bottom line is that we are the best versions of ourselves and most satisfied with our lives when we are most able to direct the course of our lives and see our purpose. When we feel thwarted in accomplishing our desires or feel useless and irrelevant, we lose motivation. We stay up too late wishing away the hours with mindless entertainment. We sleep later and later into the day. We lose direction and purpose.
One the other hand, when we know our purpose and have the means to pursue our goals, it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day. We work in a focused manner and our productivity doubles and triples. Our ideas lead to new ideas and we are energized to share them with others. All of this leads to positive mental health.
Monica Michael, LPC